Who needs Terry Richardson or Annie Leibovitz when we have Tapu Javeri and Muzi Sufi!

Published: December 6, 2014
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Pakistan’s fashion photographers now stand at par with international photographers. PHOTO: TAPU JAVERI (http://instagram.com/tapujaveri)

As I was going through my Instagram feed a couple of days ago, I came across a series of flashback photos that Tapu Javeri had posted on his profile. I was left awestruck and mesmerised by how cool things were even back in the early 90s.

His shots of Babara Sharif as Marilyn Monroe, styled by Nabila, and his first ever published piece from 1991, where he manipulated the images in the darkroom using hand painting to make it look magical, speaks volumes of the photographic talent that Pakistan has. This was back in the day when fashion was not mainstream and fashion photography in Pakistan was unheard of by the common man. It made me wonder about the state of fashion photography in Pakistan and how much we have progressed in terms of creative expression. Ather and Shahzad, the dynamic duo, were also part of the pioneering bunch in terms of exposing fashion photography to the mainstream media.

Babra Sharif shot for Herald by Tapu Javeri

Tapu Javeri’s work from the early 90’s

Freiha Altaf for Sana Safinaz by Tapu Javeri

Actress Needli for Herald 1992 by Tapu Javeri

Fifi Haroon by Tapu Javeri

It was in the early 2000s, that the internet took the nation by storm, the consumption of media forms changed and newspapers started churning out high fashion editorials on a regular basis, that it started reaching the masses. Models became supermodels, dominating print and electronic media alike, and photographers started getting their work recognised, thanks to people knowing the faces they worked with. Photographers realised the importance of the talent they were working with, and accordingly, their work grew.

With more demand comes the ability to work more and the more work opportunities one has, the more it gives one a chance to explore their creative expression. Fashion photography started expanding as a form of art. Then in the late 2000s, photographers such as Guddu and Shani, Ayaz Anis and Rizwanul Haq started coming out with amazing concepts and ideas that redefined the boundaries of fashion photography in Pakistan. Photoshop has also played a huge part in this, but one cannot solely rely on editing jobs for credibility. A photographer’s work speaks for itself.

Guddu and Shani

Guddu and Shani

Guddu and Shani

Guddu and Shani

Guddu and Shani

Guddu and Shani

Jia Ali by Guddu and Shani

Guddu and Shani

Ayaz Anis

Rizwanul Haq

A lot of the credit has got to go to the photography schools around the nation, offering courses that help the industry create talented fashion photographers, National College of Arts being one of them. Now, photographers need credibility and, in the fast paced rat-race of a world, talent is just not enough to get through.

Nowadays, the new crop of fashion photographers are breaking barriers and pushing themselves even more so. A lot of the credit must also go to the publications, newspapers and fashion magazines that give these new photographers a chance to showcase their work. Nadir Firoz Khan and Abdullah Haris’s work has been lauded not only by people in the industry but also by those who follow them on social media.

NFK Photography

NFK Photography

NFK Photography

NFK Photography

NFK Photography

NFK Photography

NFK Photography

NFK Photography

Abdullah Haris

Abdullah Haris

Abdullah Haris

Abdullah Haris

Abdullah Haris

Abdullah Haris

Abdullah Haris

Abdullah Haris

That being said, the change in the way we consume media has upped the game in many ways. Thanks to inspiration boards on Pinterest, fashion bloggers having their say, Instagram enabling people to devour the beauty of photography for themselves, and Facebook exposure has changed the way things are. Our industry is now not only for the country but people from all over the world, who are interested in taking part in the game. So naturally, in order to keep up with the Kardashians, the photographers have no choice but to go all out with their creativity, ideas and photography skills, creating more and more fun campaigns worthy of a Tumblr repost and an Instagram share. It’s getting tougher but with time, things are getting better.

Pakistan’s fashion photographers now stand at par with international photographers. Sure, we may not have Terry Richardson or Annie Leibovitz to shoot for Vogue or Elle, but we do have our very own Tapu Javeri and Muzi Sufi shooting for Hello! and Herald, all the while pushing boundaries of the way Pakistanis consume fashion imagery and how things should be for fashion photography.

Muzi Sufi for Hello!

Muzi Sufi for Hello!

Muzi Sufi for Hello!

Muzi Sufi for Hello!

Muzi Sufi for Hello!

Muzi Sufi for Hello!

Muzi Sufi for Hello!

Muzi Sufi for Hello!

In short, all of it has come together with the efforts of everyone, from the models to publishing houses, the industry being open to change and letting the work speak for itself. People are accepting of the change that the fashion industry is making in the field of photography and photographers are open to experimenting. Where Pakistanis may once have felt envious of the photo-shoots in Vogue or GQ, we now have work to devour that is on par with any high fashion international magazine and has an entity of its own.

Haseeb Sultan

Haseeb Sultan

The author is is a dentist, writer, and an artist. He blogs at blog.haseebsultan.com and tweets at @haseebsultan_ (twitter.com/haseebsultan_)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Maximus Decimus Meridius

    Firstly I have only one word for the works of “Guddu and Shani” included here. BIZZARUS MAXIMUS. (is that supposed to be a centaur? and the one above that, is it a man or not a man?) The ones by NFK and Muzi Safi are good, but the ones by Abdullah Haris are kinda weird and tbh a little creepy.
    I’m not sure if the writer included them or they were edited in.
    Secondly, There are major shortcomings which have not been mentioned, especially the fact that no one cares for our fashion photography because it is sooooooo below international standards.Recommend

  • Ahmed Kaleem

    Are you serious? Do you even have any idea that who Terry Richardson & Annie Lebovitz are? And comparing Muzi Sufi with these two is the most stupid thing in the history of most stupid things, and What about Guddi Shani, Abdullah Haris & Nadir Firoz Khan? Why they are not considered to be in the title of your article instead of Muzi Sufi who is nothing but a newbie in front of all these tycoons? And please update your self & try to use some Fashion content of Abdullah Haris instead of these arty one’s while comparing him with other fashion photographers by showing all of their fashion shoots.Recommend

  • unknown

    abdullah haris is in the list bro..!!!!Recommend

  • Ahmed Kaleem

    I said show his “FASHION CONTENT” and update yourself, that means that instead of showing his arty pictures show his fashion shoots, as shown of all others & update your self because all of his old work is shown in this article.
    I never wrote to add him in the list, try to understand the comment first.Recommend